Senators of both parties on Tuesday poked holes in President Trump’s budget request for the Interior Department, which cuts funding for the agency by 11 percent.
During a Tuesday hearing, Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - DC prepares for Saturday of festivals & Jan. 6 demonstration Republican leaders misjudged Jan. 6 committee Trump endorses GOP challenger to Upton over impeachment vote MORE (R-Alaska) told Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke that the budget is “better than what we have seen in the last few years,” but that it’s still not going anywhere on Capitol hill.
"I don't expect many of [the cuts] to become a reality, especially those that target popular programs," Murkowski, the chair of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said.
Murkowski singled out proposed cuts to a royalty-sharing program for offshore oil drilling, though other senators raised concerns about funding for conservation and outdoor efforts like the Land and Water Conservation Fund and the operations budget at the National Park Service.
“I find the budget so focused on the oil and natural gas aspect of revenue that I think that you are neglecting the fact that the outdoor economy generates $887 billion a year,” Sen. Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellDelta variant's spread hampers Labor Day air travel, industry recovery Wyden asks White House for details on jet fuel shortage amid wildfire season Air travel hits pandemic high MORE (D-Wash.), the ranking member, said.
"I want to make sure that we are putting pedal to the metal as it relates to the outdoor economy ”
Zinke told the committee that the $11.7 billion budget prioritizes spending for maintenance while cutting funding for other Interior efforts, including land acquisition.
“This is what a balanced budget looks like,” he said. “There’s tough decisions throughout, but if we want to balance the budget, this is the starting point for what that looks like.”
Zinke is scheduled to testify twice more on Trump’s budget request this week.